Woodridge fire damaged 15 to 20 houses | Locally
A large fire ravaged the town of Wooldridge on Saturday as a number of other fires burned across the area and state.
The Wooldridge fire, located in Cooper County, started when a combine caught fire in a field it was cutting, according to deputies.
Russell Schmidt, assistant chief of the Cooper County Fire Protection District, said some people were treated for burns, but no one died. The entire city was evacuated, and many of the evacuees gathered at Fire Station 3.
On Sunday morning, Cooper County Fire District spokesman Jim Gann said at a news conference that 3,000 to 3,500 acres had burned and 20 to 25 buildings were burned or damaged. The American Red Cross is helping 10 families displaced by the fires.
Firefighters are working this morning to get the hot spots under control with increased winds in the forecast this afternoon.
Gann said the fire is 100% contained but could flare up.
The fire also spread to lands belonging to the Great Mudfish and Wildlife Refuge, Cooper County agencies said in a joint statement.
Stephen Derendinger, an engineer with the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District, said half the town had burned.
“She’s devastated,” Derendinger said.
Crews pumped water from the pool to fight the ongoing flames at Wooldridge. They managed to save the Wooldridge Baptist Church building, the post office and the Wooldridge Community Club.
According to a tweet from the Missouri Department of Fire Safety, crews from Cooper County, Jamestown, California, Howard County, Boone County, Clifton and Otterville responded to the fire. At least 1,600 acres are at risk from the fire, including private land and conservation areas, said Mike O’Connell, director of communications for the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
As of 8 p.m. Saturday, the Wooldridge fire was largely contained. Schmidt confirmed that Greis Trucking and Excavating Co., of Boonville, was bringing bulldozers and equipment to help the Missouri Department of Conservation contain the fire.
O’Connell said bringing many departments together was key to fighting the fire.
Tim Taylor, a retired firefighter who assisted at the scene, confirmed that the bulk of the fire had spread north toward Interstate 70, pushed by the wind.
According to MODOT’s Central District, I-70 was closed in both directions as of 6:45 p.m. Saturday as smoke on the highway left drivers with little or no visibility. Eastbound traffic was diverted through Boonville, while westbound traffic was diverted through New Franklin and Boonville.
As of 8:15 p.m., both the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-70 were reopened. In a tweet, the Missouri State Highway Patrol warned drivers to “slow down and increase your following distance as heavy traffic is approaching soon.”
A firefighter on the scene said construction on the I-70 Missouri River Bridge will be halted and all construction equipment will be removed from the bridge.
The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency activated Level 3 emergency support functions to respond to the situation, O’Connell said. Emergency support functions at level 3 mean partial activation. That requires state command staff, core support functions — including planning and logistics — and specific state agencies, depending on the threat, O’Connell said. In this case, the activation included transportation and fire departments, highway patrol and police to control traffic on I-70 and concentrate support to deal with the situation.
O’Connell said their main aim was to “stop people from trying to travel that route because of the terrible visibility”.
The Department of Fire Safety warned of dangerous fire conditions over the weekend in a tweet Saturday morning, citing several wildfires that broke out in the state’s northeastern counties on Friday. The National Weather Service also issued a red flag warning for significant fire danger in more than 20 counties in the southeastern part of the state.
Additionally, around 3:30 p.m., a call came in for fast growing grass near North Roby Farm Road near Rocheport. Several houses and a church were damaged, but no one was injured.
A field fire on Blue Ridge Road between Rangeline and Providence Road burned an estimated 60 acres of heavy brush and timber, according to a Facebook post from the Columbia Fire Department.
One firefighter was being treated for heat-related issues, Acting Fire Chief Clayton Farr Jr. said. No update on that firefighter’s condition as of 3:45 p.m
The Boone County Fire Protection District was on scene assisting. Crews were trying to keep the fire from crossing Providence and Blue Ridge roads and started a controlled burn on the north edge of the field.
The closest building is a Dunkin’ coffee shop and Baskin-Robbins on the southwest corner of Blue Ridge Road and Rangeline Street.
Boone County Community Communications asked people not to light fires due to the fire danger resulting from the dry and windy conditions. Farr said drought conditions, as well as heat and wind, definitely contributed to the fire. The cause has not yet been determined.
“Don’t do any activities that could start a fire,” O’Connell said.
He added that even driving on dry grass, which is common in rural areas, can cause a fire.
A separate wildfire near Columbia’s south side burned about 35 acres of grass and brush on Friday.
#Woodridge #fire #damaged #houses #Locally